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PRACTICAL ACTIVITIES

We’re working hard to create a whole bunch of new resources for you and many of these will have their very own activities to complete. We’ll add all of these here as they become available and if you subscribe to our mailing list we will let you know when you can access them.

If you have any ideas on activities that you feel will help you transform your mindset, we’d love it if you’d send us an email to let us know. If you use the subject line, “Activity Sheet ideas”, it will help us to get you the support you value!

Submit your suggestions here

Diaphragmatic Breathing

When we feel stressed we often also feel like it has control over us rather than us having control over it.

Often people tell us that we need to stop stressing. I don’t think I know anyone who wouldn’t say “Well duh, I wish I could. No matter how much I try it always seems to come back to bite me”, in response to that statement.

Guess what? There’s a reason for it. And not just any reason. A proven, scientific reason.

So here’s the deal …

When you’re experiencing that stress (muscle tension, racing heart, endless circular thoughts, anxiety, headaches, etc), you’re internal survival mechanism (fight/flight) has been activated. In other words, your brain is under the impression that your life is in danger and has switched on the inbuilt mechanism to save it. You see, your brain can’t tell the difference between a real threat such as a lion stalking you, and one that’s masquerading as a threat.

When this system has been switched on the blood flows directly to the parts of your brain that control the tools to get you out of the situation – breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, muscle/motor control, and so on. And since your body only contains a certain amount of blood, it becomes necessary to redirect it from some of the non-essential parts so you have enough resources to get away from the threat. This specifically means the part of the brain that controls thinking, reasoning and problem-solving. You don’t have time to reason and problem-solve when you’re under threat. You need to be able to react instinctively, without thinking. Also, if you think about a real threat (e.g., being confronted by a lion), if you take your focus off the lion for even a split second it’s likely to seize its chance and pounce. So your brain is designed to provide laser-like focus. When we bring that into your modern lifestyle, this translates to a focus on the things your brain perceives as being a threat and you end up with thoughts racing around your mind. Finances, children’s tantrums, health concerns, and so on.

So, when you’re under threat, your brain and body become primed to either fight or flee for your life, and your ability to think and problem-solve is impaired.

Let me state that clearly.

When you are stressed, your brain perceives you to be under threat. It activates your survival mechanism, moves all available resources to keeping you alive and shuts down your ability to think clearly.

Why is it important to know this?

Because this is a system that you cannot control. It’s an inbuilt mechanism that operates automatically. So wishing (or being told) that you can “stop” stressing is literally impossible. Since you can’t control it, you can’t stop it happening.

However that doesn’t mean that you can’t manage it.

It’s pointless trying to manage it with your thoughts. That part of your brain has been shut down, remember? So you need to manage it from the area of the brain that is working – that is, the part that controls heart rate, breathing and blood pressure.

How can you do that?

By controlling your breathing. By calming your breath using simple diaphragmatic breathing techniques, you work at de-activating the fight/flight system.

Until it’s re-activated next time. At which point to employ the same technique.

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

Body Scan

This 13 minute audio file takes you through a guided visualization to scan your body for any sensations you may be experiencing. Whether you’re feeling a little pain in your leg, an ache in your arm or tension in your shoulders, this activity helps you to become more aware of your body and the signals it gives you.

Five Things

This activity is one I use with my clients all the time. Most of them come to me stressed and determined to get through super busy lives without taking the time for self-care, despite experiencing symptoms such as excessive mind chatter and difficulty sleeping.

This activity is designed to bring your awareness into the moment and away from the chatter in your mind. Based on the experiences of many of my clients, as well as my own, you should feel calmer and more relaxed, and your mind will settle. It’s super simple to implement and it’s also a great game to play with the kids when they feel unsettled. Here are the instructions:

  1. Name 5 things that you can see around you
  2. Name 5 things that you can hear
  3. Name 5 things that you can feel

Repeat these steps but name 4 things in each category instead of 5

Repeat again, but count down how many things you name each time you go through …. 5 things, 4 things, 3, 2, and 1.

As you go through each round, you can choose to name the same things, or try to keep them different. And you can do the “see”, “hear”, “feel” in whichever order you like.

As you finish, take a moment to check in with yourself to see how different you feel. Pay particular attention to your breathing rate, heart rate and the amount of chatter in your mind.